Democracy Now: the Iron Lady and Guns

This week two of the most powerful democracies in the world made costly decisions – either relating to pounds or people’s lives – in contradiction to general opinion.

The Iron Lady was not given a state funeral – which requires a vote in parliament – instead however, a funeral British press are comparing in honour and splendour to those of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother Elizabeth. Amongst the rise of a new party scene celebrating her death, there was large opposition to this affair from all corners of the country, seeing as the funeral is estimated to have involved 700 military personnel and cost 10 million pounds in a time when unavoidable budget cuts are being made. Ultimately, the irony of the legendary privatisation advocate demanding a funeral completely organised and paid for by the state, will be what makes this funeral memorable.

Simultaneously across the ocean, a large majority of Americans were voicing support for gun control reform. Whilst in February a poll showed that 92% of Americans would be in favour of background checks, the reform was denied by Democratic and Republican senators. The proposal, which had been created by the teamwork of Democrat Manchin and Republican Toomey, would have required criminal and mental health background checks before commercially purchasing a gun. While it personally makes sense that a healthy country does not want the insane to be armed, the opposition explained their rejection to be based on principle.

Joining the two events is the way both the American president and the British prime-minister did not have/exert much power or influence on the situation. Whilst Lady Thatcher’s funeral is seen to have been planned already in 2008 by Mr Brown (a great admirer), it must have been a great consolation to Mr Cameron that prime-ministers are important enough to receive grandeur after having served their country. Moreover, the gun purchasing reform demonstrated once again Obama’s constant struggle against the senate in trying to achieve all that he stands for. A point reoccurring this week in news of a hunger strike and guard fight in Guantanamo bay – the prison for those held without trial, which Obama vowed to cancel within a year when he was elected president in 2009.

With public opinion being broadcasted like never before, it seems that even the most respected democracies need to put in place mechanisms to respond to what the people actually want. At the moment leaders are simply blaming ‘the system’ for failing to listen to their people.

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